Kate C


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  • Organization
    University of California, Santa Cruz

  • Teaching Since
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  • Describe your teaching experience and interests in a brief public biography (200 words)
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  • How often do you allow your students to generate their own research questions and design their own investigations?
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  • How often do you lead students in extended investigations lasting more than a week in duration?
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  • How did you hear about PlantingScience?
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  • School name
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  • Technology access: Which best describes access to internet-connected computers at your school?
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  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am interested in plant ecophysiology, the study of how plants change their structure and function in response to their environment. I am especially excited about the way that plants move water from their roots to their leaves and how they survive drought. My PhD thesis is centered around how different soils can affect a plant’s structure, and what implications these effects have on plant drought response.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is best about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    The best thing about being a scientist is, without a doubt, the chance to satisfy my curiosity! I love wondering about how plants work, and I spend a fair bit of my time reading up on research other people have done, so that I can satisfy my many questions. Oftentimes, though, the questions I ask have not been fully answered, because there is so much that we do not yet understand about how plants work. Being a scientist gives me the wonderful opportunity to find those answers that no one else has discovered. I can satisfy my own curiosity about my most pressing questions, and then I can share my answers with other people who also feel a driving need to understand more about the world.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is a typical day like for you?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My typical day dramatically changes throughout the year, which is pretty fun! I enjoy the change of pace. While I’m working as a teaching assistant, my typical day would involve answering student emails, attending class, leading a lab section, grading assignments, and working on my own research project as well. If I’m not teaching, I may be spending most days processing plant samples in the lab for whichever analysis I’m working on at the moment. Some days I spend much of my time working on statistically analyzing my data and writing up my results for publication. Some days I’m planning for future projects by reading scientific papers, emailing administrators, applying for grants, and writing up permit applications. Some days, I’m out at my field site, making measurements during the day and camping at night.

  • Profile Question 3
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My advice for students interested in scientific careers is to figure out what you are most interested in. When I entered college, I knew I wanted to study plants and/or animals, but I did not know anything more detailed than that. As I took classes, interned in a research lab, read scientific articles, and spoke with my advisors, I slowly narrowed down what I am most interested in. The most defining moment came when my wonderful undergraduate research advisor, who had been discussing the articles I was reading, said something along the lines of, “I’ve noticed that even when you read a paper about a different topic, you are most curious about the implications for plant ecophysiology.” I had not noticed that myself, but after she said that, it became clearer and clearer to me that my passion lies in understanding how a plant’s structure and function responds to its environment, and how plants can thrive in such diverse environments, from deserts to rainforest. In hindsight, it seems so obvious. However, it had taken me years to discover exactly what I want to dedicate my life to learning. All the time spent wondering, reading different articles, and trying different things was incredibly worth it, because it is my passion for plant ecophysiology that brings me back to the lab or field day after day, excited about what I might discover.

  • Biography (300 words):
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  • Please describe your involvement with the PlantingScience program (300 words):
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  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?